One day, a working class man from the central Turkish region of Cappadocia decided to do some remodeling in his basement. With his own family expanding and living quarters becoming tighter, he wanted to expand his modest home, yet he didn’t have the funds to hire outside help. As such, he decided to take matters into his own hands, grabbing his trusty toolkit and getting to work. That’s how it all started. Down in his basement, tool in hand, he walked along the stone wall, looking for a place to start. He found a spot that seemed right, and started chipping away. Little did he know that his whole life would change as a result.
This is the story of an ordinary man who became a pioneer. He had one simple desire – to help out his family by making his house larger with some good, honest, hard work. He didn’t expect to make a historical discovery! An unexpected revelation takes this man for the ride of his life, with twists and turns all along the way. As he grapples with the ancient past of his home, a startling truth is unveiled right in front of his eyes.
Digging in his own basement, the man was shocked to discover a hidden passageway. What he was yet to uncover, though, was that this concealed route would ultimately lead to a (literally) groundbreaking archaeological finding. A truth that had been hidden for hundreds of years would then be unveiled before his eyes. Once discovered, riveting revelations would be brought forward, as more questions would be raised. All this by a man who never saw it coming. From one unveiling to the next, archaeologists are mind-boggled by the man’s accidental discovery, as each new underground secret to be revealed proves to be more sophisticated than the last. And all this was found beneath a simple man’s basement!
Man with a plan
A Turkish man was in desperate need to expand his home. He had a large family, and there wasn’t much room around the house. When you’re expected to provide living space for your family, the pressure can cause you to think outside of the box. He didn’t have the financial means to hire a contractor, so he resorted to unconventional modes of thinking. Finally, he got out his old toolkit, and started to hammer away.
Or so he thought
The funny thing about making plans is, sometimes the simple act of making them rewards us in ways we couldn’t have imagined. Once he began chipping away at the stone, he began to notice something strange. That something was in fact nothing: instead of finding more rubble, he came upon chunks of open space. A few more moments of work provided him with an astounding view of large hole – tunneling it’s way down a path beyond his view. In looking to make more room for his growing family, he had stumbled upon an ancient, hidden passageway.
Down the rabbit hole
Due to the confounding darkness of the tunnel, he retrieved his flashlight. Shedding light on the tunnel, he climbed in and started walking. The hall was silent, giving off an eerie vibe. Excited but apprehensive, he slowly treaded down a rocky pathway that steadily declined. As he continued to walk, his light showed him something new. Up ahead there stood a darkened doorway. Although he had misgivings, his curiosity took precedent over his fear and he proceeded on.
While it may be easy to read about at home, some things are easier said than done. As he walked towards the doorway, he began to have second thoughts about this idea. His mind was curious, but he also knew about the different types of creatures that lurked in the dark places of Turkey, such as scorpions and poisonous spiders. He understood very well at that moment that he was in uncharted territory, and that he could be attacked at any moment. Still, he kept going.
A path once treaded
Soon he discovered something even more groundbreaking. Up until this moment, he had suspected that the tunnel had been made by other humans. That all changed when he discovered stairs that were clearly human-made. Speculation now became truth, for how could he deny the wonders before him? The tunnel walkways were now more polished, and the walls more sophisticated. He considered that he might be in a tomb – until he walked a little bit further.
A whole new world
It was as if every step of the way brought something extraordinary. What seemed significant before now paled in comparison to the new truths he was uncovering. He now found himself in a large enclosure, with prominent stone pillars and strange engravings at every turn. He was the pioneer of an ancient archeological discovery. It didn’t seem like any man or woman had set foot in this place in centuries, and he couldn’t help but feel excited.
Knowing that he had to keep exploring, he walked through another doorway only to be faced with several more of them. This interesting new room had a display of doors of all different shapes and sizes, branching upwards, downwards, and off to the side. The structure of these designs impressed him, and really took him by surprise. He felt so good about his discovery – but he also wanted to know more about its history – so he decided to reach out.
At this point he was naturally very confused, for how could he have never known about this place, living on top of it for so many years? One could only imagine how mind-boggling it must be to discover that you’ve living been somewhere for years and years, and never know the worldly discoveries that exist beneath you. Yearning to know more, he called the Turkish Antiquities Authority. He thought he had found an ancient maze, perhaps a hideaway. He was very surprised to hear what they told him.
An ancient city
The authorities were very excited when they gazed their eyes upon this man’s discovery. They weren’t a hundred percent sure about the truth of this mysterious underworld, but they had a theory. They speculated that it was the lost city of Derinkuyu, a site with a deep heritage and an eclectic culture. The more they explored the beauty of the place, the more it made sense with their theory. They planned to do more research, but to them it was certainly a good start.
An ideal hideout
It seemed that the Turkish man’s initial thought – that the underworld may have been used as some sort of a hideout – wasn’t so far off from the officials’ thinking. They reasoned that the narrow tunnels were perfect for keeping out mass intruders. This was because only one person could fit in these tunnels at a time. People that were used to the tunnels could move quicker, but invaders would have a lot harder of a time getting around.
Blockages at every turn
In addition to the narrow tunnels, there were giant rocks placed ideally for the purpose of blocking doorways and securing the forts. These boulders were very large, but they could be rolled in front of the passages with the help of three to five men. This is especially significant because further exploration revealed a whopping 18 lower levels down below. If any intruder came, the defenders could block them out and hide out underneath. If the intruder would advance further, the defender could simply retreat further down.
It is notable to appreciate the vastness of the boulders, and how they managed to handle them, let alone use them for protection. This was made easier to them by the use of utensils they invented. This is particularly impressive, as the level of sophistication needed for a feat like that is very high. The ability to invent new utensils, and use them to handle heavy boulders to block out doorways must have certainly impressed the officials.
Water all around
As they continued to explore, they found that the Derinkuyu culture’s sophistication extended beyond just their level of security. Deep wells were present, and were shown to be inaccessible to anyone on the ground level. This was a self-sustaining source of water, completely underground, and available to only the members of the Derinkuyu society. Now they could escape from intruders, and stay alive as well. The would-be explorer and the officials’ surprise continued to mount, as they further discovered new aspects of this culture.
The ins and outs of these irrigation pipes were created very methodically. Not only did they supply freshwater in large quantities, but the structure of the pipes were formatted in such a way that an outsider would have a lot of trouble finding them. The vents were hidden beneath clever construction, and if anyone did get lucky enough to find them – they’d be hard put to move through them at all. Here was further proof of the innovative techniques of this mysterious culture.
Ancient secret pathways
In addition to the water, the air vents flowed throughout the entire city. All 18 levels of the underground palace enjoyed cool air. The residents of the city had plenty of secret pathways to come and go as they pleased, but any outsider would have no such luck. One by one, each amazing new revelation floored the man: “I cannot believe what was sitting under my house all this time, and how clever all these details are”.
One thing leads to the next
The discovery of this ancient underground led to many other discoveries. The man understood that all of the secret entrances and exits connected to Derinkuyu must lead somewhere. Soon enough, over 100 separate entrances materialized around the vicinity. But this brought up just as many questions as it answered. The more areas that got discovered, the more possibilities began to emerge. Precisely what was the function of this society, and how far did their sophistication extend?
A bunker of safety
The officials reasoned that perhaps the Derinkuyu society emerged from the Christians in The Byzantine era. Times had been dangerous, and Muslim-Arab nations were a constant source of raids. This need for security would have been a huge catalyst in the creation of the underground city, as well as the need to be fully stocked with food and water, in case of siege. During hard times, the ability for anyone to create this bunker of refuge is without a doubt an exceptional accomplishment.
Adjust and thrive
The citizens of the Derinkuyu population must have had a hard time getting used to living underground. The provisions must have been scarce – but when push came to shove, that was their only way to stay alive. It allowed them to appreciate the simplicities of life, and focus on bettering their current situation. Upon careful observation of their way of life in this time, we can maybe better understand how they came to be as sophisticated as they were. They were a tightly knit tribe, and they didn’t look back.
Across the timeline
Many other societies over history were found to have used the Derinkuyu bunker for help in much needed times. Mongolian masses were rampant in the 14th century, and many populations used this now classic hideaway as a means to escape them. Sometimes, the underground city was used for protection of not just people, but the storing of religious artifacts. The advanced level of the ancient city was obviously a beacon of hope to many generations in need of help in turbulent times.
Another interesting tidbit about the day to day life of the Derinkuyu underworld is the lighting. Electricity had not yet been invented, so how did they light up their dark, cavernous rooms? Upon further exploration, officials deduced that torches were used. Their evidence of that is apparent based on the charred black ceilings of the rooms. These ceilings were clearly the result of a smoky atmosphere, created by consistent, much needed fires – providing light for the citizens.
The Derinkuyu network
The Derinkuyu underworld is just the tip of the iceberg when beginning to explore the different underworlds of the world. It was discovered that connected to the Derinkuyu network alone were many neighboring cities, some of them larger than others, and extending to 3 levels. Researchers found that when bringing all the cities together, a whopping 20,000 people could be hidden altogether within the collective undergrounds. When bonded together, these underground cities could trade with each other, and help each other in times of great need.
Where will they pray?
Take an inquisitive look at the image provided depicting a cross section of the Derinkuyu underground. Note the beauty of its design, and the simplicity of its function. Very important to note is the fact that the church is all the way on the bottom. This was crucial because in times of persecution, religious observers were constantly under the knife. Therefore, to further avoid potential attack, religious rituals would take place on the bottom floor.
Mind over matter
Just as interesting as the participation of the Derinkuyu culture with religion, is the active reinforcement of a thriving education. In this picture is the room in which the citizens would not only pray, but also give over knowledge to their young children. This is one of the more beautiful aspects of the Derinkuyu culture, for it shows that even during times of absolute chaos, they stayed focused and determined to educate their future generations.
Wondering about who lived in the city is fun, but the question of who built it is also very intriguing. Upon further research, the officials figured that while the Derinkuyu society must have lived in this ancient underground, they may not have been the original architects of the city. As the biggest underground structure ever discovered in Turkey, the theory is that it was possibly built in the 7th century by the ancient Phrygians. The Turkish man who discovered it still cannot believe it existed beneath his own house!
The Derinkuyu’s agenda, up until this point seems obvious. The need for shelter is apparent in its structure. But some theorists raise the following issue: shelter from who? They claim that the Derinkuyu tribe were not escaping from the Arabs, nor from the Mongolians – but from aliens. It’s an interesting theory, for there have been many stories in the past about societies speculating about unidentified visitors from the sky. Given how little we know about the Derinkuyu society, their guess may be as good anybodies.
The man of the hour
Although the name of the mysterious man from Turkey is yet unknown, his story of discovering an entire underground city has already made him a legend. The idea that one can innocently try to expand their basement, only to discover an ancient, hidden lair is quite extraordinary. His findings can be counted among the most important findings of the 21st century, despite the fact that he made them by accident! Hopefully his name will one day be revealed, because it deserves to go in the history books.
Come and see!
The name of fascinating area in which this underground world resides is Cappadocia. Since the discovery of the Derinkuyu underground, it is a very attractive place to visit, and people from all around the world come frequently. The terrain itself is like a wonderland, a beautiful landscape. There is a striking balance between the natural beauty that exists above the land, and the breathtaking remnants of the underground cultures as well. It is definitely worth a visit for anyone with a traveling chip on their shoulder.
This man’s story is without a doubt a shocking one. Just imagine if you started renovating your home, only to discover an ancient city! His story is one that archaeologists from all around the world are forever grateful to him for. It just goes to show that you never know when the hidden beauties of the world may decide to reveal themselves. We think we’ve tapped into it all, but there is plenty of uncharted ground.
“This new discovery will be added as a new pearl, a new diamond, a new gold to Cappadocia’s riches”, stated Ünver, the mayor of Cappadocia. He has a vision to build “the world’s largest antique park,” stating that “we even plan to reopen the underground churches. All of this makes us very excited.” Quite amazing that a discovery that started out as a small hole in the wall of a man’s house, turned into a phenomenon that inspired the mayor of Cappadocia to revamp his entire city!
Take it to the limit
Now that an entire ancient underground world has been discovered, archaeologists have wet their beaks! While it is risky, they have decided to dig deeper, and see what else the mountains of Cappadocia have to offer. Based on the unprecedented discovery of the city of Derinkuyu, it’s natural for them to wonder what else is there. For this reason, similar expeditions have begun to take place. One such project aims to uncover the secrets of a city hidden under Nevşehir Castle, located in the Turkish region of Cappadocia. “When the underground city beneath Nevşehir Castle is completely revealed,” an archaeologist said. “It is almost certain to change the destination of Cappadocia dramatically.” Sounds like a man on a mission!